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February 7, 2019

Washington Physicians, Wearing their White Coats, in Olympia Today Talking to Legislators on Behalf of Patients and Profession

Olympia, Wash. - Physicians and physician assistants from throughout the state are putting on their white coats and meeting with their elected officials in Olympia today for the 2019 WSMA Legislative Summit. More than 100 WSMA members will talk with legislators about issues important to their patients and their profession, including the vaccination issue, access to care for behavioral and mental health, and raising the age of the sale of tobacco and vapor products from age 18 to age 21.

"The mission of the Washington State Medical Association is to make Washington state the best place to practice medicine and receive care," said Tom Schaaf, MD, MHA, WSMA president. "Because we work at the frontlines of care, we are visiting the capitol today because it's important for us to share what we experience in our practices everyday with our elected officials."

There are several key issues important to physicians and patients being addressed in the 2019 Washington state legislative session:

  • Increase the age of sale of tobacco and vapor products to 21: Smoking continues to be the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S. Most smokers start using tobacco before age of 21. Cities and towns across the country that increased legal smoking to age 21 have seen significant reductions in their youth smoking rates, in some cases as high as 50 percent. WSMA physicians are talking to legislators today in support of bills (House Bill 1074/Senate Bill 5057) that raise the age of sale for tobacco and vapor products from age 18 to 21.
  • Vaccinations: To strengthen our state’s immunization policy and protect our communities, the WSMA supports the elimination of personal and philosophical vaccine exemptions for school, child care and preschool immunization requirements (House Bill 1638/Senate Bill 5841).
  • Mental and Behavioral Health: Washington’s physicians support increases in funding for targeted behavioral/mental health and substance abuse disorder in primary care; support behavioral and mental health workforce initiatives; support integration of BH/MH treatment into primary care; and support tele-psych consult and training programs, all of which will help improve access to mental and behavioral health care for all Washington patients.

Also at the WSMA Legislative Summit, the association will honor Rep. Steve Burquist with the Legislator of the Year Award for his support during the 2018 legislative session, at noon in the Columbia Room of the Legislative Building.

B-roll footage and photos will be provided the afternoon of Feb. 7 on Vimeo (, on Twitter @WSMA_update and Facebook

For more information, contact:

Graham Short

Cindy Sharpe
813.244.2883 cell/text 

About the WSMA

The Washington State Medical Association represents more than 11,000 physicians, physician assistants, resident physicians and medical students in Washington state. The WSMA has advocated on behalf of the house of medicine for more than 125 years. Our vision is to make Washington state the best place to practice medicine and receive care.

Join or renew your membership today